111: Firefox and Witchcraft - The Connection?
|Firefox and Witchcraft - The Connection?|
Title text: ThisadpaidforbythecounciltopromoteMicrosoftandChristianity. Remember, The Bible is Closed Source.
The comic charts the number of members of the religion Wicca against the number of times the Firefox web browser was downloaded, with the implication being that Firefox usage causes involvement in Wicca. In juxtaposing these almost certainly unrelated phenomena, Randall highlights the common error of assuming that correlation implies causation. When two variables exhibit similar trends, this is often taken as proving that one is causing the other. However, such correlation may have come about through pure coincidence, and not indicate any link between the two at all. This is particularly a problem when examining a large number of variables: the chances of finding a coincidental correlation increase exponentially as more variables are added. It may also be the case that a third factor is causally linked to both outcomes. In this case, it is plausible that the increasing ubiquity of internet access has resulted in increased demand for Firefox, and also in greater capacity to share the ideas of Wicca.
Randall further illustrates one common, and perhaps destructive, use of illusory correlation in the bottom half of the image. The appearance of the symbol for Internet Explorer, a rival web browser, and the cross, representing Christianity, imply that this graph is an attack ad promoted by Microsoft and Christianity to gain an advantage over their competitors.
The title text is reminiscent of political commercials, which often tell you who paid for them very quickly. This high speed is represented by all the words in the title text being strung together. The last sentence is a play on the term of closed source software, which Internet Explorer is, as opposed to Firefox, which is open source in development. In a similar vein, the Bible can be considered "closed source" due to God's prohibition on altering its contents.
- [A graph is shown with a positive slope.]
- [Y axis]: Membership in Wicca
- [X axis]: Total Firefox Downloads
- [Internet Explorer icon.]
- KEEP THE
- [Outline of a cross.]
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